On December 12th 2018, I gave birth to my second son Felix by water birth. I had attempted a water birth with my first son, Dexter, but things hadn’t quite gone according to plan. I am pleased to share with you my water birth story, a positive experience I hope will inspire others to also choose a water birth.
My Water Birth Story
For months people had been telling me they thought I would have this baby early, and as much as I agreed deep down with them, I still had it in my mind that I could go well overdue, like my friend Hayley who was two weeks late with her second baby and ended up being induced.
On the run up to the big day I didn’t have any obvious twinges. I was contracting on and off for weeks on the lead up to the birth, these contractions were stronger than Braxton Hicks and took my breath away, but they were so sporadic, I’d probably only have three or four a day.
On Monday 10th December I went to see the midwife for my 38 week appointment. She told me I was 2/5 engaged but as this was my second baby, baby could pop in and out of my pelvis with ease so that really didn’t mean anything. She had a feel of baby and listened to its heart rate and confirmed he was very comfortable inside there. I took that as confirmation that I wouldn’t be giving birth anytime soon.
On Tuesday 11th December, just before midnight, I went to the toilet and when I wiped I saw blood stained mucus on the tissue. I was really shocked that I was experiencing this at 38 weeks pregnant and explained to Neil how this can be an early sign of labour. After a lot of Googling, I decided the baby would be here within the next 24 hours and I started to freak out a bit, crying and worrying how I would get through another labour. At midnight I had three long, painful contractions, fifteen minutes apart; I was so, so tired that I told Neil I’d try to sleep in between them, I ended up waking up at 7am the next morning to Dexter shouting me.
After sorting Dexter out, I went to the toilet and the pink tinged mucus was still coming. I whacked on a pad and set about cleaning the house inbetween playing with Dexter, I knew the baby would be coming soon. I text Neil who had already left for work to let him know the mucus was increasing in volume and perhaps he should ring his Mum and see about Dexter staying over that evening.
At 3pm, I started contracting regularly enough for me to start timing them on an app. Each one was 5-7 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds. I got into bed with Dexter (who had decided not to nap!) and watched YouTube with him while I breathed through the manageable pain. Although Dexter hadn’t napped, he was as good as gold sitting and watching TV, asking me every so often why I was breathing funny.
Neil told me at 4pm that he was on his way home after speaking to the Head Teacher and her asking what on Earth he was still doing at work. I asked him to pick up a McDonald’s on his way home, I was absolutely ravenous and nothing gives a good energy boost like a Maccy’s burger, twenty nuggets and some fries!
After all of us sharing our final meal as a family of three in bed while I contracted, Neil went to take Dexter to his Mum’s house and I sat on my exercise ball bouncing through the pain. At 6pm I took some paracetamol as the pain and pressure was beginning to get quite bad and I put on some of my favourite music to distract me from what was going on. I found this relaxed me as I was really so terrified of giving birth. Since being off sick from work I’d spent my days cleaning and watching One Born Every Minute, trying to ease my mind on the idea of giving birth but I think it probably worried me more!
Neil was back home before 7pm and saw how much pain I was in compared to when he had left and he advised me to call the hospital. I decided it couldn’t hurt so they would at least knew I’d be on my way at some point that evening. I spoke to a midwife at triage who asked me some questions about how I was feeling and what symptoms I’d had. She agreed I’d probably be ready to come in soon, but asked me to stay at home until it was unmanageable because at this point I was doing alright.
We put on Sky News as the music was starting to irritate me and we watched the developments of Theresa May’s Vote of No Confidence. I wanted to get to 9pm to see the result and told myself that when I got there, I’d make a decision on what to do next.
Over the next two hours the contractions were every 3-5 minutes and lasting a minute or so. I tried the bath at 8.30pm but it didn’t help with the pain and I hated being stuck on my back. After seeing Theresa May win the vote at 9pm, I stood up, grabbed my phone and called the hospital again. Neil said he’s never seen me move so fast. I spoke to a midwife called Jo who was lovely and said I needed to get in to be examined so we started packing an extra bag with snacks for Neil and a few extra bits for me like make up and my hairbrush.
On my way to the car I started contracting again and was nearly sick with the pain; I was marching up and down the street swearing and heaving and remember seeing my neighbour drive past- how embarrassing!
We started the trip to the hospital and then realised we had left the car seat at home, so had to turn around. The car journey is surely the worst bit of labour- you can barely move and every pothole and bump in the road absolutely kills.
The journey to the hospital took about fifteen minutes and each contraction I had on the way there was excruciating. The contractions I was having were not like the ones I’d had with Dexter which had felt like strong period pains. These were in my back and my bum and the pressure was unreal.
We arrived at triage and Jo took us into a room where I explained what had been happening and I weed in a bowl for her. She took my blood pressure and listened into baby and was happy with both- although my BP was really rather high for me 125/90 when it’s usually 90/50. Jo then examined me and I must say what an amazing job she did as she was so gentle and she declared I was 5cm. I was a little disappointed at this point as I was in so much pain, but I was still happy I wasn’t going to be sent home. She read through my birth plan and organised for the birthing pool to be run while she wheeled in some gas and air for me to have some relief.
We waited for about 20 minutes to be taken to delivery suite and in that time I must have had ten contractions which I was not coping well with at all. I was pacing up and down the room sucking in my gas and air and trying to massage my back where all the pain was. I tried sitting, I tried standing but I could not cope at all. I kept telling Neil that the gas and air was useless, but inbetween contractions I was laughing and joking about how embarrassing this all was!
Just before 10pm the midwife from delivery and a student came to introduce themselves right in the middle of a contraction. I was trying to breathe through my contraction and listen to what they had to say but I completely missed their names and the fact that Tracey the student was even a student at all- I only realised this when Neil told me much later on, after delivery.
On the way to delivery suite I explained to the midwife what my previous delivery had been like, she wanted to know why I’d had a ventouse and when I told her I was pushing for three hours, she said that would not be happening tonight.
We arrived in our beautiful room which had low lighting, a huge birthing ball, soft music playing and a big birthing pool. I was so happy to be in such a calming environment. I had another huge contraction which I used the ball to control as soon as I got in the room. The midwife said I’d be checked again in four hours and I felt so deflated. I remember saying to Neil, that takes us to 2am and then few hours of pushing, I’ll be having the baby tomorrow at this rate. Meanwhile Tracey and the midwife were testing the temperature of the water and I decided I really needed a poo and asked to go to the toilet. They told me they wanted to measure my output so instead of doing a poo, I simply weed in the bowl which was bright red with blood. When the midwife saw it she asked if Jo had given me a sweep when she had checked my cervix. I didn’t think she had as it hadn’t been painful or uncomfortable at all, but this midwife disagreed.
By now it was 10.20pm and I got in the pool with Neil in front of me. The midwife said I needed to stay on my back and I was not happy at all as I wanted to move through my contractions. I was in so much pain and each one was coming at an interval of 2 minutes, the pressure in my bum was becoming unbearable and I started crying like I’ve never cried before. The midwife I should point out she was one of these women who takes absolutely no shit. Neil said later she was exactly what I needed as when I began crying she was incredulous asking me, “Why are you crying” and of course I had no answer. But really I was so scared, wondering how I’d go for another six hours in this much pain.
I told her I wanted to get out of the bath as I couldn’t move and I wanted to be stood up walking around. She asked me how she was meant to catch the baby when I am stood up and I was seriously confused. She kept telling me to open my legs, but because of my pelvic pain it was so uncomfortable and I was fighting it. I shouted at her that I was only 5cm and how was I meant to be carrying on with this pain for the next four hours. She started laughing and said, “You’re ten centimetres” which just made me cry harder because I didn’t believe it. “Open your legs” she demanded again, “and let me give a little check to see”. I kept repeating over and over that I couldn’t be 10cm, and Neil even had to start telling me that I was. I didn’t know at this point, but when he had been opposite me, he had seen the tissues starting to stretch ready for baby to come.
Before I even had chance to know what was happening, the midwife checked my cervix, she was in and out in a flash, probably because she could feel baby’s head and she told me it was time to push. Now I was really scared, but the pressure in my bum, like I needed to poo was so intense, pushing just felt natural. Something I didn’t experience during my first birth.
I pushed a little and the head stared to descend. “You are ready” the midwife said. A few more pushes and the baby will be out. I can remember Tracey being so overwhelmed saying over and over, ‘Oh my god this is so amazing.’
When the next contraction came, I pushed like I’d never pushed before, as if I was having a poo and I actually could feel baby moving down. I still didn’t believe I would be able to push baby out though and kept asking if it was going back in. The midwife was reassuring and told me there is no u-bend when you have a second child and the baby will just come out so do not worry.
Another contraction came and the baby’s head started to be born. I was told to stop pushing and to breathe. It was so painful but also so relieving to have baby’s head come out. Neil said, “The baby’s head is coming out” and I swore back at him that I knew this as I could bloody well feel it! He was so overwhelmed at seeing it all happen but I’m so glad he did.
Once the baby’s head was out, I was told that there would need to be one big massive push to get the shoulders out. I started to panic and asked if the baby’s head was the worst bit or if this bit was going to hurt even more. Once again the midwife reassured me that baby’s head is definitely the worst bit and I just needed to push. Another midwife must have come in at this point and I remember the first midwife saying to her “I’m not even putting on my gloves because she’s going to deliver this baby herself”
The next contraction came and I pushed like I’d never pushed before and out popped baby in it’s waters into the pool. “Pick up your baby!” shouted the midwife, so I did and placed him on my chest relived he was here and flabbergasted that he’d arrived so quickly, within an hour of arriving at delivery suite. They asked me to see what sex he was and I picked him up and saw his little penis and was so happy it was another boy. I couldn’t stop crying with happiness and being overwhelmed.
The baby stayed on my chest while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating and then we both got out of the bath so I could deliver the placenta. The baby was weighed while I had the injection and after a quick push, the placenta was delivered intact. Baby was then brought back to me for skin to skin and the first breastfeed.
I was delighted that baby latched pretty much immediately and fed from me until around 3am when we were moved to the ward.
It was an incredible experience to give birth in the pool and I pretty much had my ideal birth and avoided everything I had dreaded. I needed three stitches along my old scar which the midwife did an hour later, but even that has healed so much better than last time.
When I wrote Dexter’s birth story, I felt like it was a positive experience, but over the past couple of years, when I’ve told people about my experience, they’ve told me how horrendous it sounded and I began to realise that it was not a great birth- it was long and recovery was hard. This time I feel amazing; despite having stitches, everything feels a lot less swollen downstairs this time and my stomach seems to have gone back to normal a lot quicker too. Although I’m about 20lbs heavier than my pre pregnancy weight, I don’t feel as bloated as last time (although this time I am about 10lbs than I was after Dexter) and most of my old clothes feel comfortable (apart from my size 8 jeans!)
I am very grateful to have had a direct midwife who didn’t take any messing from me and told me exactly what I needed to do to have my perfect birth, despite my moaning and crying. Despite this, and my very quick recovery, I’m sticking to my guns that this baby has completed our family and I will not be having any more children!
Welcome to the world Felix Edward Hughes. The final piece of our puzzle, the boy who completed our family, the best friend and brother Dexter could have ever asked for and forever to be known as ‘the baby‘ as per Scouse tradition.